Potential Distribution of Dengue Fever Under Scenarios of Climate Change and Economic Development
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- Åström, C., Rocklöv, J., Hales, S. et al. EcoHealth (2012) 9: 448. doi:10.1007/s10393-012-0808-0
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Dengue fever is the most important viral vector-borne disease with ~50 million cases per year globally. Previous estimates of the potential effect of global climate change on the distribution of vector-borne disease have not incorporated the effect of socioeconomic factors, which may have biased the results. We describe an empirical model of the current geographic distribution of dengue, based on the independent effects of climate and gross domestic product per capita (GDPpc, a proxy for socioeconomic development). We use the model, along with scenario-based projections of future climate, economic development, and population, to estimate populations at risk of dengue in the year 2050. We find that both climate and GDPpc influence the distribution of dengue. If the global climate changes as projected but GDPpc remained constant, the population at risk of dengue is estimated to increase by about 0.28 billion in 2050. However, if both climate and GDPpc change as projected, we estimate a decrease of 0.12 billion in the population at risk of dengue in 2050. Empirically, the geographic distribution of dengue is strongly dependent on both climatic and socioeconomic variables. Under a scenario of constant GDPpc, global climate change results in a modest but important increase in the global population at risk of dengue. Under scenarios of high GDPpc, this adverse effect of climate change is counteracted by the beneficial effect of socioeconomic development.